Environmental Perceptions of Rural South African Residents: The Complex Nature of Environmental Concern

Institute of Behavioral Science, Program on Environment and Society, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado at Boulder.
Society and Natural Resources (Impact Factor: 1.09). 06/2010; 23(6):525-541. DOI: 10.1080/08941920903357782
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The state of the local environment shapes the well-being of millions of rural residents in developing nations. Still, we know little of these individuals' environmental perceptions. This study analyzes survey data collected in an impoverished, rural region in northeast South Africa, to understand the factors that shape concern with local environmental issues. We use the "post-materialist thesis" to explore the different explanations for environmental concern in less developed regions of the world, with results revealing the importance of both cultural and physical context. In particular, gendered interaction with natural resources shapes perceptions, as does the local setting. Both theoretical and policy implications are discussed.

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Available from: Wayne Twine, Aug 07, 2014
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    • "Among sub-Saharan African societies, social-scientific assessments of the more proximate psychological predictors of environmental behavior, such as attitudes and concern, have found marked patterns in social dispositions. Contrary to popular arguments concerning the negative influence of austere socioeconomic circumstances on pro-environmentalism in low-income traditional societies (Van Liere and Dunlap 1980; Inglehart 1995), multi-national surveys have recorded high levels of environmental concern and activism in sub-Saharan Africa (Dunlap 1994; White and Hunter 2009; Hunter et al. 2010). Phenomena such as floods, droughts, erosion, and pollution are critical public concerns in Nigeria (Egunjobi 1993), and researchers have argued that positive environmental values, including an inclination toward nature preservation, are inherent in the traditions and culture of Nigerian society (Adeola 1996, 1998; Ogungbemi 1997). "
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    • "Gosken and his colleagues (2002) reported the capacity to differentiate among environmental issues in their study in Turkey of the effects of the geographical proximity of an environmental problem on environmental attitudes and a willingness to pay to deal with that condition. Hunter and her associates (2009, 20) noted in their study of environmental perceptions of rural South Africans that among people and communities around the world " there may actually be more commonality than differences with regard to social and environmental concerns " . An additional factor, and one which has special relevance to South Africa, is that of race and ethnicity. "
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